producers

[Interview] Project B. Wins Our Hearts with yokoO

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By Frank Duke & Kristin Gray

Photos by Kayode Lowo

Ah yes, to be back at the beloved Studio No. 7 on a lovely Sunday afternoon. The perfect place for a fun, day party fix. While this event is historically outdoors, today it was all indoors, it is winter after all.

Adam Hagen is warming the crowd with gentle house melodics that are contrasted with an ever-evolving opaque groove. There is a unique dub tonality in his set that is a standalone staple to Adam’s style.

The crowd is sitting around in the minimal and chic lounge couches, chairs, and ottomans. Having a lazy start to their warm and cloudy Sunday afternoon. We are discussing our experiences of whatever party we went to last night, what we are thinking for lunch, talking about artistic exploration, and sipping on a hangover induced mimosa.

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Once our headliner yokoO arrived, the crowd had already begun to stand and get their feet moving. Julien (yokoO) made his way behind the decks, and a lush projection of clouds is illuminated on the brick wall far behind him. The sun was beginning to fall behind the horizon of the earth. A table holding fragrant candles, lanterns, cloth, garlands, and a goat for good measure, brought the unique atmosphere of “All Day I Dream” together.

yokoO situated himself behind the CDJs and synced his iPad to his computer so that he could have control over multiple effect routings. He began his opening statement. The floors, walls, and speakers were already vibrating, one could not help but move with these grooves. His sound perfectly accentuated the exotic smooth sounds of the All Day I Dream imprint, but the music had evolved much beyond that. Mixed into these dreamy, lush tones, was a bouncy, yet darker energy that was yet to fully reveal itself.

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Then the kick dropped. This was the moment yokoO’s music swayed from energetic and smooth, to a nice night-time bounce. The transition was beautiful, exciting, and seamless. The whole crowd felt this moment, and responded with “woohoos” and “ali-li-lis” heard from every corner of the dance floor. The energy picked up in pace and everyone was found together as these majestic vibes took us all away.

yokoO stepped down from his 3-hour set as Bobi stepped up to continue elaborating the energy with his bass heavy, middle-eastern, ethic and funky tracks. I danced for a moment over by the booth. As I see Bobi and Julien cheers each other, I smile to myself, happy to see camaraderie between these two inspiring men.

After Julien (aka yokoO) finished his set, he took a short break to chat with us. We walked outside the venue, stood on the curb with a small group of friends, smoked cigarettes, laughed, and got to know one another.

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You just finished up on the decks for your show in Atlanta. What steps do you take for your pre-performance process? 

I just go through say about 500 tracks and put about 100 aside. Then I just go from there.

You have been releasing a lot of records recently. Tell us a bit about your newest release on Berlin based label, Save Us, and working with the vocalist Seabourne.

That was done a couple years ago actually. I met Larissa aka Seabourne at Kater Holzig in Berlin. She sent me some of her work and I completely fell in love with what she was doing. From there, we started collaborating. We’ve released two tracks on Musik Gewinnt Freunde, which is Kollektiv Turmstrasse’s label. This one on Save Us is our third single and will be released mid-February.

 
 

I recently heard that you have been working in the studio with Bedouin while stuck in NY during the snowstorm. How did cabin fever connect you three musically and what has the process been like?

We’re pretty good friends and we were staying together while I was New York. We had been talking about working in the studio for quite some time. I guess the fact that we were all stuck in the snowstorm made it easier. We started two tracks together, which are well on their way. I imagine we could work remotely from here on but am hoping to come back to NYC soon so we can continue jamming together.

You are known to have a producer first mindset. What inspires you to make such unique music? How does this mindset coincide with your DJing techniques?

Really?! That’s interesting. Life in general I suppose. My experiences and the emotions they trigger. I don’t ever have anything in mind when I write music. My feelings and emotions direct the way I compose. My music is a true expression of the way I feel at a given time. Some producers will write for the dance floor, I honestly never try to please anyone with my tracks. I only work for myself. As a result, it doesn’t coincide with the way I DJ at all.

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Tell us about the moment that you knew you wanted to make electronic music. Was it a party you went to? An artist you listened to? Or was it the technology that resonated with you?

The very first track I wrote was for my girlfriend at the time. We had just met, and she was going off for a three-week trip to the States. We had just got together, so everything was really fresh between us. I said to her, “Well what am I going to do?" And she said to me, “Well, why don’t you write a track for me.” And this is how it all begun. I wrote a track for her and it turned into an addiction.

What is your life mantra?

Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.

What can we expect from you in 2016?

Lots of touring! Besides that, I’ll be releasing a few remixes and EPs throughout the year. Oh, there’s a couple of albums in the making - not sure they will see the light of day in 2016 though. I started collaborating with a vocalist from Australia. We’re working on a side project that’s quite different to what I normally do - a lot less club oriented and more concert vibes. The idea is to maybe release on a major label and then work on a live performance for it. Then in addition to that an album on All Day I Dream as well. But honestly, it’s all a bit early to talk about it.

Thanks for spending time with us Julien, we are all very happy to have you in Atlanta and hearing you do your thing!

Actually, I was having so much fun, I’m going to jump back on the decks with Bobi for a bit!

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His love for the crowd shone through as Julien stepped back into the booth to finish the night B2B with the beloved Bobi. The intense, immense energy these two put together was indescribable. Dancing became more energetic, faces changed into gleeful expression seeking out every nook and cranny of these sounds.

The crowd drawn by Studio No. 7 is a special one. It’s made-up of those most loyal and dedicated to Project B. and the work they put into bringing us musical talent. We all know each other and revel in the time we have to catch up, share hugs, and dance together in shameless passion. It is a family reunion, this is what Project B.runch is all about…and we can’t wait for the next one.

 
 

[Interview] Carlo Lio talks upcoming releases, kitties and his new label.

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By Frank Duke

Photos by Teddy Williams

Anticipation, hunger, timelessness, power, and restraint. Carlo Lio is known to shred dance floors and bring heat to any city. I have been waiting for this unforgettable moment ever since his last appearance in Atlanta.

I walk down the wooden staircase of The Music Room. Christian Chotro is bringing a warm driving groove that pumps through the speakers. In Atlanta, there is no question that the community of underground electronic music has any unfamiliar faces. We are family. As the crowd socializes, Christian opens up the atmosphere. Showcasing the vastness that is capable for the evening with lush melodics accompanied by ethnic percussions.

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The music evolves into a dense texture. Laughter fills that air. The crowd begins to adhere into one another. Bobi ready’s himself to warm up the room for Carlo. I sense an endearment of passion, culture, and an understanding of the crowd from Bobi. He keeps the groove flowing through the speakers. He begins to warp the tonality and the atmosphere of the music. The bass-lines become more aggressive, the melodies are not so tangible, and the breaks have a strong structure of movement.

The night progresses, the crowd prepares themselves for the man of the hour. Feet are tapping, heads are bobbing, bodies are moving, the music has engulfed the dance floor. Carlo arrives and the crowd awakens with even more excitement. This man carries himself with a humble and sincere demeanor. They start cheering and clapping for him as he sets up. Carlo Lio is no stranger to techno fans from all over the world. He has played some of the most prolific venues, and frequents festivals to the likes of OFFSonar, Lovefest, BPM, Get Wet, and ADE.

I spoke with Carlo Lio briefly before his set. When he arrived to the venue, I greeted him outside with some friends of mine. We walked to an undisclosed location and start talking a bit about his career, music, travels, and personal life.

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How has everything been with the New Year, recent travels, new releases, and with you?

The New Year's been great, I've had a bit of time off. I always take some time off after BPM because it’s just ten days of madness. For the New Year, I just had the release on Suara which is Coyu’s label. I also have an EP release on This and That, which is Davide Squillace's label. Then later, around March, I’ll have an EP on Art Department’s label, No.19. And yeah, that’s it for now.

 
 

How is it living in Toronto during the winter and in Barcelona during the summer? What’s the best part about it, and the not so good stuff about it?

I mean, I kind of get best of both worlds. I love my city. I’m going to live and die there. People always ask why it’s not the opposite. Obviously, in Europe the parties are always in the summer, so I need to be there. But I travel so much that I kind of boycott the winter. During the winters in Toronto is when I do South America, so that way I get to escape it.

How do you balance making music throughout your touring?

When I first started touring, I used to never make music on the road, I had to be in the studio. Lately as its been getting more busy, I had no choice but to figure out how to feel comfortable on a laptop and headphones, and now the tables are turned. It’s kind of hard for me to get comfortable in the studio now that I’m used to the laptop. It’s good, because you get some inspiration, and then you’re instantly banging out some beats. I like it.

You’re known to have a soft spot for kitties. Tell us a bit about your cats and the part they play in your life.

My first pet was a cat. My parents wouldn’t ever let us have pets. When we first got a cat, it was something very special. I found a huge love for them. Now with all the traveling I do; having cats is very convenient. I have two cats. One is named Treble and the other one is Clefy. Treble is the oldest one, and he's kind of psycho, a bit of a Jykell and Hyde personality. The other one, Celfy, is just the nicest cat in the world.

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You started Rawthentic Music back in 2005, last year was your ten year anniversary! How was the journey of building up the imprint, what does the future hold for it?

Rawthentic has been a staple in my life. It actually wasn’t started by me. It was started by Nathan Barato. We’re best friends and we were a DJ duo at one point. He started it in 2005 and I jumped on board in 2006. Rawthentic is now kind of on the back burner. It’s been ten years and I feel like it's kind of ran its course. I have started a new label called On Edge Society. It's only four releases in, and it’s catered to more stripped down, chunky techno. It was vinyl only and then we moved into digital four or five months later after launching. Check it out when you get a chance.

 
 

Can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to make music, and what steps you took to get to where you are now?

It all stemmed from the Toronto rave scene. I was just a partier. Toronto raves were so big and in a blink of an eye they just shut down. DJing and production were just my way to fill that void. I started messing around with them both at the same time. Playing around with vinyl and messing around with any music software I could find. I kept doing that and I wasn’t really releasing anything. I was just making tracks. My friends were telling me “Oh this is good! You should do something with this." If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have thought to send it out. I was super nervous, and in my head it wasn't good enough. It definitely worked out.

So you like sneakers a lot. What are some of your favorite brands? How many pairs do you have?

I stick to Jordan’s. I’m a Jordan guy. I would probably say I have about 100 pairs of shoes. In terms of other brands, I like what Adidas has recently been putting out. They are on point and have turned a new leaf. But I stick to the Jordans mostly.

What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions for yourself and career? What can we expect from you in 2016?

This year I have all those releases that I told you that I have coming up. I want to show another side. In this industry. You’re put into a box very fast, there is more to me than just techno. I love all styles of electronic music. I’m planning to show that with certain labels that I’m releasing on, venture into new styles, and keep attacking new labels that I haven’t been on.

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Carlo begins his journey and I make myself comfortable on the dance floor. I am ready to be swept away. I quickly become lost in the finest driving techno known to man. The room sounds pristine and powerful, a perfect match for Carlo’s style. He begins to elaborate on the dark, tech house vibe filling the air. He showcases Latin percussion elements, pounding basslines and saturated techno elements.

His set pays tribute to the theories of first wave techno with a new age flair. Sequenced melodies with atonal qualities that are contrasted with a vibrant low-end. The crowd is filled with joy as his unique and fresh style takes over. I watch his technique from a far as he utilizes Traktor and corresponding controllers. He has such an original use of effects, mixing, and track manipulation. You rarely see his hands stop moving. He is always working to bring in new track elements, while simultaneously using effects in a subtle but prominent fashion.

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As the night begins to close, the crowd stays strong, soaking up as much music as they can. Carlo closes out his final statement and thanks the crowd for such a great time. We all cheer and shout for giving us an indescribable and timeless evening. After his set I thanked him for everything. He replied, “Frank, this city is really starting to catch on.” I couldn’t agree more with him more. Atlanta is my home, and watching it become on the international map for underground electronic music makes me damn proud.